Digital Edition

Nov.14, 2016

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 31 of 63

GOVERNMENT WATCH INTERNATIONAL | WASHINGTON | CUSTOMS | SECURITY | REGULATION 32 THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE NOVEMBER 14.2016 By Reynolds Hutchins THE 2016 US presidential election has been f raught with divisive discourse and reality television-style drama, but the two leading candidates appear to agree when it comes to matters of transportation infrastructure and trade. That, of course, depends on whether the rhetoric of Democratic nominee Hill- ary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump is to be believed. Both acknowledge that the nation's crumbling infrastructure is in desperate need of a billion-dollar booster shot. The two also have criticized trade deals that stand to signifi cantly impact the cost of moving goods and break down or build regulatory barriers for shippers and logistics providers. Indeed, the tone and tenor of their decidedly pro-infrastructure but anti- trade discourse already is impacting the industry. Election-year politics and stri- dent economic rhetoric is depressing some consumer demand, and that's weighing on freight markets, according to Charles Clow- dis, managing director for transportation for IHS Markit Economics & Country Risk, a sister organization of The Journal of Com- merce within IHS Markit. But if Trump and Clinton agree on the broad points, they diverge in the details — often, if only because only one candidate has details. "The Republican candidate? There isn't much to opine about because he hasn't said much," Robert Puentes, president and CEO of the nonpartisan Eno Center for Trans- portation told The Journal of Commerce. Like her Democratic predecessor, Clinton is proposing an aggressive infra- structure investment plan. Unlike President Obama, who faced significant pushback once in offi ce, Clinton's proposal not only has some teeth, but also bipartisan support. The former secretary of state has spe- cifically called for $275 billion in direct spending on infrastructure over fi ve years, plus another $225 billion in loans and loan-g uarantee programs. The Demo- cratic nominee says she would bankroll the spending through business tax reform: repatriating corporate profi ts made overseas by US companies. Some $250 billion would be allocated to direct public investment and the other $25 billion to a so-called national infrastructure bank. "The bank would leverage its $25 bil- lion in funds to support up to an additional $225 billion in direct loans, loan guarantees, and other forms of credit enhancement," according to the text of Clinton's infrastruc- ture plan. Trump's plan: double that. "Her number is a fraction of what we're talking about. We need much more money to rebuild our infra- structure," Trump said in an interview on the Fox Business Network. "I would say at least double her numbers, and you're going to really need a lot more than that." Trump has made similar promises in other news media, never going into any more detail. "All he's said is that he would double whatever the Democratic candidate would propose," Puentes said. "He's said something about an infrastructure bank, but that's something that came out of the Clinton camp." According to Puentes, the multibillion- dollar infusion and the infrastructure bank supported by both candidates is a sound policy proposal. Corporate tax reform is a priority for US lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, and repatriating the dollars and cents made overseas to avoid US taxes for the explicit purpose of rebuilding infrastructure stateside seems not only fair but also just. "The infrastructure bank is the best idea of what we've talked about for the last 30 years. It's a good idea," Puentes told The Journal of Commerce. "There does seem to be some legitimacy to that, and there does seem to be some bipartisan agreement that a lot can be worked out through repatriation." But transportation is a soft target for can- didates. Crumbling highways and bridges is physical evidence that something must be done, and the infrastructure industry employs approximately 11 percent of the civilian workforce, Puentes pointed out. "The challenge we have in this country is not making the case for infrastructure," he said. That's not the case for trade. The can- didates' positions on trade agreements and trading partners have been nuanced, in large part because their rhetoric hasn't always matched reality. Clinton and Trump are critical of free trade agreements, although the former has made a career brokering those deals and the PROMISES, PROMISES If you buy the rhetoric, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton align fairly closely on infrastructure and trade issues GOVERNMENT WATCH INTERNATIONAL | WASHINGTON | CUSTOMS | SECURITY | REGULATION

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Digital Edition - Nov.14, 2016